Robert Reich: 60 years ago today, the Klan murdered my protector

Robert Reich: 60 years ago today, the Klan murdered my protector

Robert Reich writes:

I’ve shared some of this with you, but today marks 60 years since it happened — when the Klan murdered my protector.

I was always the shortest kid in school, which made me an easy target for bullies. To protect myself, I got into the habit of befriending older boys who’d watch my back.

One summer when I was around 8 years old, while visiting my maternal grandmother at her cabin in the Adirondack Mountains, I found Mickey, a kind and gentle teenager with a ready smile who made me feel safe.

I don’t recall asking Mickey to protect me. He wasn’t the kind of hulking kid I usually chose as protector. He was on the short side and thin. And I don’t remember Mickey putting up any kind of fight to defend me or even quieting the kids who made fun of me.

But I do remember Mickey’s warmth and reassuring presence. He wore a sailor’s cap and seemed forever cheerful. His calm good nature seemed to automatically cast a positive spell over kids who’d otherwise turn to bullying.

We were not friends. I was only eight, and he was a young teenager. Yet I loved him.

Years went by, and I grew into a teenager who no longer needed older boys to protect me from bullies. I lost track of Mickey.

It wasn’t until September of 1964, my freshman year in college, that I heard what had happened to him.

Early that summer, Mickey had traveled to Mississippi to register Black voters. [Continue reading…]

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